April 20, 2005

The Half-Skinned Steer

Although this story isn’t very realistic, I liked it. This story was difficult to follow at first because it is constantly incorporating the past and present – fiction and what I believe to be true? Anyway, I really enjoyed the girlfriend’s story about Tin Head and his half-skinned steer. That painted a very vivid picture in my mind! Not necessarily something I wish to dream about…

“And all that distance Tin Head can see… and its red eyes glaring at him, pure teetotal hate like arrows coming at him, and he knows he is done for and all of his kids and their kids is done for, and that his wife is done for and that every one of her blue dishes has got to break, and the dog that licked the blood is done for, and the house where they lived has to blow away or burn up and every fly or mouse in it.”
This is obviously a story, but did it really happen? And what is up with Mero’s encounter with the half-skinned steer at the end? Is he imagining it? He had been outside in the cold for quite some time, especially because of the incident of locking the keys in the car and his method of obtaining them. Haha! He keeps saying that he hadn’t eaten in days… except for the terrible road food. So all I can come up with is that Mero is either losing it… not only because physically he is very cold, hungry, and tired from driving… but also because he is questioning his memories from where he grew up.
Nothing looks to him how it used to, gates and fences collapsed, entrances concealed with snow, etc… Bottom line, my interpretation is that Mero has been having emotional disturbances regarding his childhood and the new information regarding his brother’s death. He left his home and family behind and never turned back. These memories are all coming back to him and leaving him to not only wonder about how things turned out, but who his brother had become, and perhaps trying to justify his irresponsible actions. Also include that he is driving for four days, eating next to nothing – tired – probably nervous – and contemplative. This is how I can begin to make sense of the ending. I do not believe that a half-skinned steer with red eyes was waiting for him, but it does make for a great story!

Jerz: Am Lit II (EL 267): Proulx, ''The Half-Skinned Steer''

Posted by KaylaTurano at April 20, 2005 8:46 PM | TrackBack

You rock Kayla.. I am proud of you.


Posted by: A friend at April 20, 2005 11:50 PM

You've made a good psychological interpretation of the story. Who else goes out in the wilderness, eats very little, and has an important defining encounter with strange forces? There's a mystic quality to the story, as well. Anyway, thanks for sharing your reaction. It certainly is an odd story!

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at April 21, 2005 12:30 AM


Amazing... wherever you are right now, I've always "got your back."

You blow minds and are an incredible, beautiful person.

Miss you,


Posted by: Mike Sichok at May 1, 2005 12:19 AM

hmm... I was wondering what the red-eyed half skinned steer at the end meant as well. I guess I shouldn't have skimmed parts of the falshbacks...

Anyhoo, I believe Mero died... if the steer was there... then it probably gored him to death... or else it was some sort of spiritual presence that let him know that he was going to die very soon... like the appearance and cry of a banshee...

Posted by: Koyasu at December 28, 2005 5:13 PM
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